In February 2014, Westminster Police Officer Curtis Arganbright arrested frequent protester Eric Brandt for writing an anti-police message using sidewalk chalk. Last December, after a long series of appeals, Brandt was ordered to spend ninety days in jail for this offense — the same sentence that now ex-cop Arganbright received for allegedly raping a woman in 2017.
The wrist slap given to Arganbright shocked many locals, apparently including Jason Dunn, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado. Dunn has formally charged Arganbright with violating the civil rights of the woman in the case. While Dunn's office declined to elaborate on the motivation behind this unusual move, a news release about the action stresses that "Defendant previously sentenced to ninety days by State now faces up to ten years in federal prison."
According to the 17th Judicial District DA's Office, Arganbright gave a ride to a 36-year-old woman after she was released from St. Anthony Hospital in Westminster on August 24, 2017. But as they were driving to Broomfield, Arganbright "pulled off of West 144th Avenue near Zuni Street to a dark area and forced the woman to engage in sex acts."
Afterward, Arganbright's affidavit maintains, he told the woman, "Better not tell anyone about this," before giving her his business card and encouraging her to give him a call in the future.
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Four days later, the Broomfield Police Department revealed that Arganbright had been taken into custody on suspicion of three felonies: sexual assault by force, sexual assault by a person in a position of authority, and false imprisonment. But in the end, these charges fell away, and he admitted guilt to a pair of misdemeanors, unlawful sexual contact and official misconduct.
At Arganbright's sentencing hearing in November 2018, the victim "was physically unable to be present," the DA's office states. "But her mother told the judge that her daughter was brutally raped and suffers extreme PTSD because of Arganbright’s actions."
Nonetheless, Arganbright received a mere three-month jolt (to be followed by four years of probation), much to sidewalk-chalker Brandt's astonishment. He exclaimed, "The officer raped a woman in his patrol car while he was on duty!"
By hitting Arganbright with a civil-rights claim rather than anything more directly related to the original allegations, U.S. Attorney Dunn avoids any claims of double jeopardy. The Department of Justice's civil-rights division is co-prosecuting the case, which is taking place in U.S. District Court. A hearing on October 21 marked a return of sorts for Arganbright — and certainly not a happy one.